Pretoria - Ekurhuleni Executive Mayor Mondli Gungubele has called for calm and tolerance in the wake of attacks on foreign nationals.
Violent incidents against foreign nationals have taken place in KwaZulu-Natal and in some parts of Johannesburg.
The Mayor visited parts of Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, where violence was threatening to flare up. He condemned the attacks in Makause and Marathon informal settlements in Germiston, where three people were reportedly injured.
They were attacked when a group of people tried to rob their shops last night and this morning. The injured have all been taken to hospital.
Gungubele said these attacks were acts of crime. He called on communities to work closely with law enforcement agencies to put the perpetrators behind bars.
"Makause and Marathon informal settlements were the first to experience instability last night. However, following my visit to the two areas this morning, I got the feeling that this was not xenophobia but rather crime.
“It is clear to me that this has got nothing to do with hatred between people but rather looting the shops of these African brothers and sisters.
"I also got the sense that most of the locals are not in support of the looting. They were lamenting the situation, telling me how the foreign nationals have made their lives easier by opening shops that offer them low prices and credit deals when they did not have money," the Mayor said.
Ekurhuleni was the most affected area in the country by xenophobic attacks in 2008. It was in Ramaphosa informal settlement where a man of Mozambican origin was assaulted and later set alight in broad daylight and in full view of the public.
"What is happening in the country right now is completely unnecessary. As a city, we are determined to work hard with our communities to ensure that we put concrete plans in place to deal with any violence perpetuated against foreign nationals in the area," said Gungubele.
He said the metro has already activated a joint operation centre to deal with the situation.
In 2011, the city held a cleansing ceremony at Ramaphosa in memory of those who died in 2008.
Other activities that have been hosted by the metro include a xenophobia summit and games against xenophobia.
"Communities must join us as government and NOGs in frustrating the efforts of those in our communities who are hell-bent on fermenting the flames of crime, hatred and intolerance," Gungubele said.
He said to win the struggle against xenophobia, communities must learn to “live in unity instead of tolerance”.
"Unity is what must drive us. It teaches us to live in harmony with the acceptance that we all need each other to survive," he said.
He warned that the on-going violence is not good for the economy of the country because no investor will want to settle in an unstable environment.
"At the end of the day, we are threatening the future of our country and its people," he said. – SAnews.gov.za